Newspaper Article

May 25, 2024

"What Keeps Us from Looking like Jesus?"

As students were presented with awards at the end of the school year, I was especially pleased to hear about the recognition one of our grandsons received at the Christian school he attends. He was given the award for Christlikeness, a high honor that was reserved for only one student in each grade level. While other awards for academics and sports achievements are also admirable, I believe this recognition of being like Jesus is a wonderful testimony of a personís character. However, the physical appearance of my grandson the evening of the ceremony could have raised questions about the appropriateness of his receiving this particular honor. He walked onto the stage while sporting a noticeable black eye. Thankfully, he didnít receive this injury from being in a fistfight. It was actually the result of getting hit in the face by a baseball the previous day. Nevertheless, it seemed rather humorous and could have been misunderstood in light of the award he was receiving. After all, I donít recall any depictions of Jesus with a black eye. He may have dished out some tongue-lashings to the Pharisees and even got physical while driving out the moneychangers from the temple, but Jesus wasnít a brawler.

Christlikeness is something we should all be aiming for as followers of Jesus. It is not just one of many worthy goals for us to seek, but it is actually the main goal God has in mind for us. Romans 8:29 says that He has chosen us ďto be conformed to the image of His Son.Ē Paul wrote about how we all are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of the glory of the Lord (see II Corinthians 3:18). In another letter, he said, ďLet this mind be in you which was also in Christ JesusĒ (Philippians 2:5). We are meant to be like Jesus.

However, we all are aware that we still have a long way to go before fully reaching that goal. It is great that my grandson was recognized for being Christlike but he canít hang that certificate on his wall with the idea that he has reached the spiritual pinnacle where he can remain for the rest of his life. Just like the rest of us, he still has a lot of growing to do spiritually. There are still areas in our lives which need to be worked on, refined, and shaped more into the image of Jesus. No matter how much we may resemble the Lord, we are still only a blurred image of what He is and what we can yet be.

Letís just make sure that we donít have any obvious black eyes that would hinder our testimony for Jesus. We all have our shortcomings. We are all works in progress. However, if there is a flaw in our character that tends to show itself prominently in our lives, we especially need to let the Holy Spirit work on us in that area. When other people see that noticeable attitude or spirit frequently manifesting itself through our words and behavior, it can damage our witness for the Lord. Again, we are all going to have our spiritual blemishes to overcome. But I am referring to the bigger and more prominent issues that we know are inappropriate for a follower of Jesus and that can be a stumbling block to the people around us. We need to let God do more than cover over that black eye, but to bring real healing from the inside out.

Letís allow the Lord to reveal any black eyes in our character and conduct that hurts our witness for Him. Then letís seek His help to get rid of whatever keeps us from looking more like Jesus.